mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 33: Trunk Novels


Key points: Don't hold back. Go ahead and use your good ideas now. Save those cool ideas -- repurpose and look for the right project. Beware falling into eternal rewrite. Give yourself time to grow. Watch for zombie darlings that need to be killed again.
out of the grave )
[Howard] But sometimes the sand blows carelessly and freely.
[Brandon] Yes, it does. OK, we're going to do your first strip next time. You have to give us a writing prompt, then.
[Howard] OK. I'm going to take a word from my first strip. Interspeciated workplace.
[Dan] Nice.
[Howard] Take the phrase "interspeciated workplace" and run with it to someplace besides Schlock Mercenary.
[Brandon] Or he'll sue you. That's your other writing prompt. Howard Tayler sues you.
[Howard] I just got a cease-and-desist from a web cartoonist.
[Dan] When you write schlock fan fiction.
[Brandon] OK. This has been Writing Excuses. Thank you to our wonderful audience for cheering and making monkey noises and... I'm going to hold one up now.
[We love Jordo]
[Brandon] And loving Jordo. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 31: Line Editing Dialogue


Key Points: Look at various ways to rewrite, and consider which works best for your purposes. Dialogue is an imitation of speech that feels realistic, not a transcript. Consider the voice of the character. Watch out for said-bookisms, adverbs (aka Tom Swifties), and "seem to"s. Make sure snappy retorts snap.
Lots and lots of line editing... )
[Brandon] All right. Writing prompt this week was given to us by Producer Jordo who really, really, really wants you to write some stories called, "The Importance of Being Earnest Goes to Jail." Or, no, "Earnest goes to Camp?"
[Dan] Or to jail. I'm sure you could take any Earnest movie and mash it up with Oscar Wilde and come up with an abomination that we would all love to hear.
[Brandon] We want a mashup of an earnest movie with Oscar Wilde. So there's your writing prompt. You might have an excuse this time to not write.
[Howard] You've got a couple of good excuses, but please write anyway. Because you're writers. Right?
[Brandon, Dan] Right.
[Brandon] Bye-bye.
[Howard] That was awful.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 27: Major Overhauls to Broken Stories


Key Points: If you are a new writer, just keep writing! Writing group, editor, agent, your own judgment will usually tell you when a book needs work. Identifying that something is wrong and learning writing triage to pick the right thing to fix take lots of practice. Some possible solutions: rearranging things, adding characters or scenes, removing characters or scenes, changing the setting... You can't do everything in one draft -- focus on fixing certain things.
Leave some breadcrumbs... )
[Brandon] Okay, before this goes any further, I'm going to end it and give you your writing prompt. Writing prompt this week is to take a story that you have written before and take one throwaway comment or throwaway concept somewhere in that story... find something that you didn't mean to be important at all. I want you to instead read write that scene, rewrite that chapter, so that that idea becomes the major focus of it, and see what happens.
[Dan] Cool.
[Brandon] All right. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (Burp)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 23: How to break into the young adult market


Key points: To break in, first write the book. In fact, write several. Then pay attention to why it is being rejected, and revise effectively. Don't be afraid to admit that a relationship isn't working. Even when you have a first draft, there's a lot of work ahead. Keep plugging, and pay attention to the feedback you are getting.
the words... )
[Brandon] All right. I'm going to go ahead and give our writing prompt because something just popped into my head. Don't know if this is going to be a good one, but... write a story where two roommates are living together, and one of them sells a book manuscript, and then vanishes. The other roommate decides to go ahead and pretend that it was their manuscript and finish the book. They sold it on proposal. So they have to finish the book. That's going to be our writing prompt, is the roommate pretending to write the book by the other roommate. You're out of excuses. Now go write.
mbarker: (BrainUnderRepair)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode 19: Discovery Writing


Key Points: Outline or write, that was the question? Map and plan your road trip, or get in a cool car and take off? False starts may be your friends. Throw some interesting characters in interesting situations and see what happens? Start with characters talking? Discovery writing helps show us who the characters are. Do your characters suggest things and do their own thing? You may be a discovery writer! Don't be afraid to use some structure if it helps. Advice for endings -- analyze what you've written, identify the Chekhov's guns you've hung, and pull those triggers. Brainstorming with other people is outlining for discovery writers. Discovery writers revise -- go back and make it solid. Think of your first draft as a really detailed outline. Fix it in post.
Off we go... )
[Brandon] All right, Howard, discovery write us a writing prompt.
[Howard] Discovery write us a writing prompt? You know what, we're going to do Brandon's improv technique. Okay? Wherever you are right now, unless you're in your car, look around and pick six unrelated items. Pick six unrelated items.
[Dan] You can do this in a car, just don't crash.
[Howard] They're going to be related, because you're on the road. Okay, six unrelated items and weave them together in the first chapter of your discovery written thing. Knowing that at least two of them are Chekov's gun's that are going to prove to be important throughout your story.
Tail wagging the dog )
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Four Episode Three: How to Manage Your Influences


Key points: we are surrounded by influences, media, people, etc. Being aware of them and conscious of what you select is important. Be conscious of your decisions, what you are doing in your fiction, and why you are doing it. "Create the art you want to create, and then make it good enough that other people like it." There are lots of great things to do, but they don't all belong in your story. Be selective. Readers may know that there is a problem, but it's your job as the author to figure out which knob to turn to fix it, or even if it needs fixing. Consider advice very carefully.
Influence peddlers? )
[Brandon] It's my turn to come up with a writing prompt. I'm going to suggest that you write a story in which you pretend a famous literary figure or historical figure is sitting over your shoulder giving you feedback on it, and you're writing according to what they are telling you to do. So come up with a plot, an outline, and then write your story, pretending that Abraham Lincoln walked in and is telling you feedback as you write. I don't know what that's going to do, but it should be interesting. This has been Writing Excuses that's gone way too long. You're out of excuses and so are we. Thanks for listening.
mbarker: (ISeeYou2)
Writing Excuses Season Three Episode 11: Trimming


Key points: Trimming takes fat out so that you say what you need to say in the best possible way. Trimming improves the pace, makes writing snappy, and helps with clarity. Killing your darlings is not trimming. Trim repetition. Trim false starts. One strategy is section by section trimming -- 10% off each page or chapter, aka Jerry Pournelle's cut. Another approach is spot trimming, focusing on scenes, aka Dan and the Writing Group take a slice. Poetry teaches word usage. Trim adjectives, very, dialogue tags, navelgazing. Fix passive voice.
1 Lightyear: 10 to the 13th KM. About 63,000 AU, which is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun. )
[Brandon] The writing prompt is you are going LARPing with Jerry Pournelle. If you have to look up LARP, go ahead. If you have to find out what Jerry Pournelle is like, go ahead and Google that. Write a story that involves you LARPing with Jerry Pournelle. Not Howard LARPing with Jerry Pournelle, because he has already appeared in too many of our writing prompts.
[Dan] Then cut it down to half size.
[Brandon] Jerry Pournelle or the story?
[Dan] Something in the story has to be cut in half.
[Howard] Do you have any idea how big a light year is?
[Brandon] This has been Writing Excuses. You are out of excuses, now go write.
mbarker: (Fireworks Delight)
Writing Excuses Season Two Episode 25: The Seven Deadly Sins of Slush Stories


Key Points: use standard manuscript formats. Not technicolor, not fancy fonts, not multiple sizes. Follow the writer's guidelines for your market. Avoid Star Trek and other fanfic, obvious grammar errors, run-on sentences.

The seven deadly sins are:
1. Infodumping (a.k.a. a story is not a lecture)
2. Staff Meetings (a.k.a. infodumping in dialogue is still infodumping)
3. Incomprehensible actions (a.k.a. lack of setup)
4. Navel contemplation (a.k.a. non sequitur infodumping and no action)
5. White room syndrome (a.k.a. lack of setting)
6. Dystopias (a.k.a. the all-disgusting background)
7. Dark and gritty (a.k.a. all the disgusting little details)

Recommended: Revise, revise, revise. And write your passion.
Lots of good stuff )
[Brandon] Thank you very much, Nancy. This has been good information. This has been Writing Excuses. Do you have a Writing Prompt, Howard?
[Howard] Write something...
[Nancy] That you're passionate about.
[Howard] About an egg.
[Brandon] A passionate egg!
[Howard] Oh, no. No. Those... oh, dear.
[Brandon] This is Writing Excuses. Thanks for listening.

May 2017

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